There are times when I’m watching a TV show that I really love that I sometimes sit in wonder and amazement at how compelling it can be. Other times I can be blown away by the use of imagery and symbolism that require me to think deeper about the message being delivered. Finally there are times that I am watching the show and have the feeling that I’m just completely missing the point because I don’t care for what I’m seeing at all. Sadly the 15th episode of the final season of LOST played out that last case scenario for me. As usual I will warn you that I am about to discuss the episode in detail so if you haven’t watched it yet and don’t want to know what happened than I suggest you return at a later date to read this.
I’m sure both on paper and in concept the idea behind the episode of ACROSS THE SEA sounded great and made the writers feel that they were really going to deliver on answering some questions for fans of the show while also tying up a few loose ends. We the fans would finally know who the skeletons of ADAM & EVE, discovered in the caves in the season one episode HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN, were. We would find out who built the DONKEY WHEEL that when turned moved the Island, and we’d find out the origin story of both JACOB and the SMOKE MONSTER/MAN IN BLACK. Unfortunately, for this viewer and fan anyway, what may have sounded good didn’t come off very good. I think that the Tweet from writer BRIAN LYNCH sums up my viewing experience best:
OK, maybe that doesn’t really sum it up but it made me laugh upon reading. I think fan reaction to the episode is also pretty clear from the Tweet sent out today by Executive Producer Damon Lindelof:
With ACROSS THE SEA what I ended up getting was a rather uninteresting story that lead to more questions than answers, which this late in the LOST game isn’t a good thing. I’m not just talking about a little list either. Here’s all of the questions that got stuck in my head while watching this episode:
- Why did they have to clearly make a point out of the MAN IN BLACK not having a name by never saying his name, a move that just made me want to know his name even more?
- Where did the MOTHER character played by ALLISON JANNEY come from and how did she become (I’m so sorry for this bad cliche) the protector of the light (yes, again, sorry, you read that right but hey I didn’t write the episode)?
- Why throw us a bone by showing us it was the MAN IN BLACK who built the DONKEY WHEEL only to also show us that his job site was collapsed before being finished forcing me to wonder who did in fact finish it? Yes, I get that he probably convinced others that came to the Island to finish the job but still, why even give me that question?
- Why have MOTHER say that she’s made it so that JACOB and MAN IN BLACK can’t harm one another and then have JACOB beat the crap out of him twice in the episode and then either nearly or completely fatally wound him as he’s tossed into the tunnel where the LIGHT is?
- Why the heavy handed inter-cutting of the HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN footage of the skeletons being found in the future while JACOB places the bodies in the past? I know the producers said that this is one of the things that proves that they had the end game planned the entire time but instead it just came off as them finding a solution that fit the scenario they set up six years ago (not to mention JACK said the bodies looked like they could have been there for 30 or 40 years… that’s a bit off the mark from 100’s of years).
I suppose if you break it down to the essentials seeing this episode brought me the same level of frustration I experienced with the introduction of the MAN IN BLACK and the actual appearance of JACOB in the season five finale. Meeting these two characters made me feel like a lot of what we had watched up to this point and the struggles we had seen were diminished by these new players who apparently held a greater importance to the show than we had ever known. It felt like one of those bad mysteries where suddenly the bad guy is revealed and it is a character who was playing a bag handler in the background of the second scene.
Maybe I would feel better about this episode if they had come up with this idea earlier in the season, like immediately after the season premiere where we learned that SMOKE MONSTER and UN-LOCKE were one and the same. It certainly didn’t spoil anything for the rest of the season. I’d probably also feel better about this episode if it didn’t actually make me feel almost sympathetic again for the MAN IN BLACK right after the episode that let us know that he was completely, totally and unarguably the bad guy. In this story he came off more as a victim who doesn’t want to be trapped on an Island where for 13 years he was raised by the crazy woman who murdered his mother. Yes in the end he ends up stabbing his “Mother” but this can also be taken as avenging the death of his real mother and the people he has lived with for the past 30 years as well as freeing himself of the evil that this mother murdering monster clearly seemed to be capable of. Instead of black and white (a metaphor and bit of symbolism used WAY TOO MUCH in this episode) and the struggle of DARK and LIGHT we get dumped right back into shades of grey. From a story telling perspective this sudden shift made no sense.
Another frustrating element of this episode was taking JACOB from the wise and enlightened being we previously viewed him as and reduced him to a whiney little momma’s boy. He didn’t come by the job of protector of the light (ugh) and Island as a noble calling or through trials and redemption. He was handed a job at the family business that he didn’t want and just like so many others in the same role he screwed up on his very first day on the job. All he has to do is protect the light and keep men out of the cave. First command decision? Throw his brother into the tunnel and BAM he makes a smoke monster. Way to go JACOB!
Oh yeah, before I forget, I think we should officially ban any writer from ever using the term “There’s a storm coming” again. I’m calling for a moratorium on this one folks, it’s been overused and is such a heavy handed term used in foreshadowing that it pretty much insults my ears for hearing it. In this episode that was overflowing with symbolism it was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Going in to this episode I really wanted to love it but instead it was just too long of a story that did very little to hold my attention long enough to show me who built the DONKEY WHEEL, how MAN IN BLACK became the SMOKE MONSTER and who two skeletons were in the caves. If this episode is any indication for the type of writing we can expect over the next three episodes than I can only tell you one thing folks: There’s a storm coming.
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